Avatar Author: Phil Plait I'm an astronomer, blogger, author, skeptic, and a few other things. I am dabbling here for fun. And practice. Read Bio

The flash was barely noticeable, seen askance. Ancient reflexes acted; I whipped my arms to turn myself. Maybe I did. I couldn’t perceive it. The light was gone before I could react, and all was black once again.

I sighed in mind if not in practice. Another black hole evaporating catastrophically as it reached the Hawking limit. That last made one billion exactly. Hurray.

It must’ve been a supermassive one in the core of some long-dead galaxy; they’re all that’s left now. Besides me of course. The last one blew up over 10^92 years ago.

Time is long. Idiot.

I swore in a trillion languages, taking my time, stretching out each syllable in my head, letting each last a year. Then I did it again.

I remember everything. I was an idiot.

Sure, I’ll make a deal, I said. I’ll be specific, I said. No aging. No insanity. My memory will be perfect. Nothing will be able to hurt or kill me.


Idiot. Even the Devil himself must have long ago disintegrated. All that’s left is me. And the black holes.


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Comments (32 so far!)

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  1. Avatar cthulhuburger

    One of the best stories I’ve seen on here. Well done!

  2. Avatar TSlothrop

    Fantastic! Love the shift in perspective of time…

  3. Avatar Pat J

    Well, you know what they say, be careful what you wish for. Nicely done.

  4. Avatar Marcus Carab

    Who knew you could write fiction as well as fact? Certainly not I!

    This sparked thoughts of something I read recently, and ideas I’d been playing with, so I decided to try my hand at a sequel.

    Hope you like it!

  5. Avatar Ibeechu

    That was astonishingly well-done. Bravo, mate!

  6. Avatar VonGoober

    Very cool! Reminds me a bit of my favorite Asimov short “The Last Question” which is always a good thing.

  7. Avatar Brian Schlosser

    I thought of “The Last Question”, too… A bit darker, though… slightly!

  8. Avatar Aurelia

    Nice work, Phil! Now you’ve got me addicted to this thing… my company curses your name…

  9. Avatar MShades

    I thought about this when I reviewed the book. Very nicely done!

  10. Avatar SandsSpot

    Bravo. Well done. Well done, indeed.

    And like Aurelia, I think I may be hooked. Of course were I truly hooked, I might try to use all 1024 characters we are given for comments.

    But I’ll spare everyone that.

  11. Avatar Blossom Ruoquen (LoA)

    Lol, the hooray line- I couldn’t help thinking of Monty Python and the Holy Grail. heh “and there was much rejoicing. Hooray.” [to be said in a near monotonous disinterest] I loved the line about each curse taking a year, a trillion times over, yet reading it only took a matter of seconds. It really made me think of what it would be like to have time blur together so thoroughly.

  12. Avatar Jessica Cahill

    This was brilliant. The confusion of the first paragraph actually worked well once you got past it and was told what was going on. The sarcastic internal dialog was great (I thought of Monty Python too ^^), and the line about the devil was just too good.

  13. Avatar Zerrakhi

    I was wondering where the power to become immortal might come from in the first place, and then I had an idea.

    However, I couldn’t write it as a prequel. Too much has to happen in between.

    I’ve written it here instead:

  14. Avatar The Note Writer

    Question:Why is he saying idiot?
    Is he calling himself an idiot?

  15. Avatar Spiderj

    Superb. This is my favourite line:

    “Even the Devil himself must have long ago disintegrated.”

    It reminded me of Tennyson’s Tithonus, even though it’s so wildly different in style of course.

    Check that out here if you’re in the mood for more lamenting immortals!

  16. Avatar ethelthefrog

    Excellent take on it. Everyone wants to live forever, right? The 10^92 seems a little excessive, but I guess that forever is a long time indeed.

  17. Avatar halfpenny

    Excellent…very well-told. The language is clear yet somewhat disorienting, in an effective way. It does a good job at expressing the vastness of time and space from the point of view from someone powerless to affect (or leave) it.

  18. Avatar quietghost

    Basically, I loved this. Well done. (:

  19. Avatar Nancy

    This is excellent. The narrator is so incredibly human – love the voice.

  20. Avatar DoItForScience

    Love the BA Blog Phil, love this story. Honestly, the sequels more reminded me of Asimov’s “The Last Question” than your story. You single-handedly inspired me to join this site Phil. Keep up the good work, all around!

  21. Avatar Ronnie

    Ha ha. I wrote a very similar story to this 3 days after you. Great minds think alike. Forever is indeed a long time. The clocks tick, eventually we all die and finally get to rest…well most of us.

  22. Avatar onebadpenny

    I’m no critic, but I do like to read. And I enjoyed reading this. Much.

  23. Avatar Stephen MacDougall

    Awesome story, Phil! Who knew you could write such inspired fiction? I was blown away!

    I hope you are enjoying yourself at TAM7!

  24. Avatar cthulhuburger

    It’s about time this got featured! Congratulations!

  25. Avatar TimothyX

    Amazing. Thank you.

  26. Avatar Kawika Holbrook

    Nice. Reminds me (a bit) of a Stephen King short story in which a boy holds his breath to avoid being knocked out for space travel. Time takes almost forever, driving him mad. Keep up the good work, and thanks for inspiring me to join Ficly.

  27. Avatar Kendall Lynne

    Uncle Phil, your story was amazing! I love it. I’m know following you and a messege came on my screen that said something like “You have now devoted undying friendship with Phil Plait!” I thought that it was funny.

  28. Avatar CSPider

    Nice twist.

  29. Avatar maidden

    Possibly the best story I’ve read here so far.

  30. Avatar Music-Hearted

    Gotta love the random story button. This is incredible, and I wish I had stumbled upon it earlier.

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